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Naswar! Huh, yeah. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing

A Walthamstow man is nearly £4,000 worse off after being prosecuted by Waltham Forest Council’s Trading Standards Service for the possession for supply of ‘Naswar’.

Naswar is an oral tobacco product banned in the UK. On 18 December 2014, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs contacted the borough’s Trading Standards team to advise that a quantity of Naswar had been found in the premises occupied by Mr Shir Ahmad Shinwari, 41, of Albert Road, Walthamstow.

A total of 2,300 packets of the banned product and corresponding labels were seized by Trading Standards Officers who also found all the raw ingredients and equipment necessary to make the product on site.

On 4 December, Mr Shinwari pled guilty at Thames Magistrates Court to the offence of possession for supply and was ordered to pay a fine of £750, prosecution costs totalling £3,021.80 and a £75 Victim Surcharge.

“I’m tempted to say that gives him something to chew over,” said Councillor Clyde Loakes, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Environment. “However, from what I understand about this product this stuff is no joke.

“Oral tobacco contains twice the amount of nicotine as in an average cigarette and increases the risk of mouth cancer, oesophageal cancer, and pancreatic cancer and raises blood pressure.

“The packaging of this product also lacks mandatory health warning labels and ingredients list. I know people of certain cultural backgrounds might believe this to be a harmless traditional activity, but it is not. There are serious health implications for users.”

During the court hearing it was said that Mr Shinwari committed the offence due to his ignorance of the law. However, in July 2012 Mr Shinwari had been advised by Trading Standards to cease producing the illegal product.

The court was further advised by his defence that Mr Shinwari had incurred production costs and made no profit. In response to this the District Judge stated that the number of packets seized, the labels and the packaging all indicated a business with a view to making a profit.

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